Ok if someone posted on this topic already please post a link so I can read more on it. My main question is does the "Privacy on" regedit hack help any against the RIAA snooping around one's shared files? Should we be concerned?
Posted on Tue, Feb. 25, 2003
Piracy police get new weapon
BY JON HEALEY
Los Angeles Times Service
This story is for all the people secretly copying digital songs, movies and games through online file-sharing systems like Kazaa and Gnutella.
You know who you are.
And soon the copyright cops might.
So-called peer-to-peer networks are very good at distributing digital material but very bad at hiding the sender or the receiver. Taking advantage of this transparency, record companies, Hollywood studios and other copyright holders are tracing users of peer-to-peer networks back to their Internet addresses and cataloging not only the items they've downloaded but also the goods they're storing for others to duplicate.
Once it has an alleged infringer's Internet address, the Recording Industry Association of America maintains that a copyright holder can use a federal court subpoena to force the target's Internet service provider to disclose his or her identity promptly.
The association tried to do that last summer, but the ISP involved, Verizon Communications, the nation's largest local phone company, would not comply. U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ruled in the RIAA's favor last month, but Verizon is appealing.
The surprising thing is how easy such sleuthing is, a fact that suggests the Verizon customer is merely the first of many who will be sought by the piracy police. All it takes is a copy of the free peer-to-peer software and an inexpensive program that monitors a computer's traffic.
Matching the Internet address to a home, dorm room or office cubicle takes a little more work, mainly because crucial information has to be extracted from the user's Internet service provider. But, by simply obtaining a subpoena from the local federal courthouse, copyright holders may be able to accomplish that.
Many Internet users assume that what they do online is anonymous, hidden behind such screen names as ''maximus'' and ''LadyBug.'' But they frequently, and unwittingly, disclose their Internet addresses as they work and play online. Just visiting a website can reveal the visitor's address.
Tools are available to hide addresses, but security experts say even those come up short on a peer-to-peer network when files are transferred.
Here's why: In a file-sharing system like Kazaa, users copy files directly from each others' computer hard drives. In order to make these connections, they can't conceal themselves behind a bogus Internet address. They have to disclose where they can be found.
''If I allow someone to come onto my hard drive, [the Internet protocol address] has to be real,'' one security expert said. ``If you have the real IP address, it's child's play to find out where the computer is.''
The struggle between Verizon and the RIAA stems from the work of one of the association's piracy investigators on July 15, court documents indicate. The investigator used a copy of the Kazaa software to search for an unnamed song, discovering that it was available from someone with the screen name ``hmbutler.''
The investigator then started downloading the song, using a second piece of software to monitor the data flowing in and out. That program detected hmbutler's Internet address, which the investigator traced to Verizon.
While the court filing doesn't disclose how the connection to Verizon was made, there is no shortage of websites capable of matching an Internet address to the corresponding ISP.
Unlike street addresses, which are tied to a unique location, many Internet addresses shift from computer to computer, customer to customer.
But, said Stewart Baker, general counsel for the U.S. Internet Service Provider Association, ISPs records show whose account addresses are assigned to at any given moment, although, he added, those records typically get discarded after a few days.
The RIAA also pulled together a list of over 600 music files that hmbutler was making available to be copied. That, too, is no great feat; the Kazaa software lets one click on a user's screen name to view an inventory of the files being offered for sharing.
The RIAA declined to discuss its piracy tactics, as did the Motion Picture Association of America.